‘Drop The Plus’ Social Media Campaign Gunning To End Body Divisions In Fashion

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“Sexy is a state of mind, not a dress size.”

These are the words tweeted by Australian-Italian model Stefania Ferrario.

A recent movement has started online, petitioning the fashion and advertising industries to “drop the plus”. As in, stop calling certain women plus size, just call them models, women, humans, anything BUT plus size.

There are many who argue the plus size, straight size and petite labels are just industry categorizations and don’t do any harm to women, but we believe that is somewhat of an ignorant statement.

A group of models and advocates are trying to enlighten the industry by telling them when you categorize a woman based on her body shape and size, especially if it is in a division that has typically been seen as something “other” or outside the narrow norms of beauty, there is a burden to want to change who they are, rather than embrace it.

Stefania Ferrario, a Melbourne-based model who is also the face of Dita Von Teese’s lingerie line, is the leading voice in this social media campaign which is quickly going viral. In fact the speed at which this movement has gained momentum is a testament to how many everyday women possibly feel the same but may not have had the elevated platform to speak in such volumes as say high profile models.

Joining Stefania is former Australian ‘Biggest Loser’ host Ajay Rochester who has faced much criticism over the years for her weight gain and loss. Ajay is an outspoken advocate against body shaming and wants the industry to know that women should not be divided by body type – we are ALL women.

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Stefania and co. believe the plus size “othering” of women’s bodies is a slippery slope because the average size of American women today is a size 14.

“Unfortunately in the modelling industry in the US if you are above a size 4 you are considered plus size, so I am often labeled ‘plus size’. I do NOT find this empowering…Ajay Rochester called the industry to task for its use of the term ‘plus size by making the point that it is harmful to call a model ‘plus’ and damage the minds of young girls. I agree with her. Let’s have models of ALL shapes, sizes, ethnicities and drop the misleading labels. I’m NOT proud to be ‘plus’…”

That is the caption that accompanied Stefania’s photo below which she posted on Instagram.

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Another Australian model who disagrees with Stefania and Ajay’s implications of the ‘plus size’ term is Laura Wells, who was featured in the activewear brand Upside’s latest campaign.

She claims the visibility of healthy women being labeled isn’t a bad thing, in fact it reverses the stigma attached to the term and shows that it is more normal than what the industry has made out.

There are always going to be opposing views, but as .Mic’s Marcie Bianco points out, “at the end of the day, those advocating #DropThePlus and those in favor of keeping it both want the same thing: body acceptance for all sizes.”

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It’s an issue that is far-reaching and spans generations. Perhaps we will be the generation to change this as average everyday women have a louder voice thanks to social media and the internet. But even celebrities are not exempt from this body image debate.

Just as an example of how impactful (some may argue damaging) the unspoken messages about body image have been on the identities of young women as they grow up, check out some of these comments made by ‘Jane the Virgin’ actress Gina Rodriguez in a recent interview with People magazine.

“I work in an industry where I am constantly being told, ‘You’re not skinny enough. You’re not tall enough. You’re not ethnic enough. Being constantly told that you are not enough can wear down any woman – any person, period,” said the Golden Globe winner.

It was messages like this that she became aware of at such a young age that per parents were adamant about teaching her about beauty in a more positive way.

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“My father was always very honest with us – and maybe crude at times. He prepared us to be able to look at billboards and magazines and say, ‘This is not the only body type that is beautiful.’ He would encourage us to find our beauty and love our beauty and accept our beauty as what God gave us.”

“I may not be skinny enough for [some] roles, but I do just fine in real life. As a woman in this industry, we are constantly being pressured to look a certain way and to get our hair and nails and makeup done and live up to these images that aren’t conducive to a healthy mind. But I have to remember that this is a game. And if the game says I should be looking like this, then I just don’t play that role. And that’s okay.”

The trend amongst industry women to go against the grain and be more satisfied looking like themselves rather than fitting is a very empowering one.

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If our celebrity-obsessed culture is anything to go by, the more powerful the messages we hear, the more of a trickle-down effect it will have. There are women who need to hear Stefania’s stance against ‘plus size’. There are women who need to hear an award-winning actress like Gina Rodriguez saying she is “OK” not fitting in.

Body acceptance is a continual struggle, and these types of movements are the growing pains in what we see as our society wanting to head in the right direction. Whether you drop the plus, or use it and own it, just know that your body is not a mistake and no industry, person, trend or movement should ever make you feel ashamed of who you are.

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One Comment

  1. Pingback: Model & Actress Alyssa Sutherland Says Don’t Be Fooled By Beauty Standards On Social Media – #BelieveInOurQueens

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